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‘I saw the light while behind bars’

By Boniface Thuku | June 22nd 2016
Pastor Isaac Kinyari (centre) escorted by prison wardens to the church after he finished his studies in prison,Kinyari acquired a high diploma in theology. (PHOTO: BONIFACE THUKU/ STANDARD)

I am today referred to as Pastor Isaac Kinyari but that was not my title a few years back.

My journey to who I am today began on April 28, 2008. It was the first time I slept in a police cell having been accused of beating and robbing two passengers.

I was brought before a Chief Magistrate in Nakuru facing robbery with violence charges and I pleaded not guilty. The case took one year before I was sentenced to death. I appealed the ruling and on March, 11, 2009 and High Court Judge Anyara Emukule reduced my sentence to nine years.

It was a devastating moment for me and my family members. Tears flowed freely at the court room and I could not believe that I was going to jail for something I did not do.

When I started serving my jail term at the Naivasha GK Prison, things were difficult. I was placed with hardcore criminals in a cell they call ‘condemned’. I found myself thinking of the many dreams I had when I left secondary school and trying to reconcile with where I was now.

It took a while but I was eventually able to pull myself up and enrolled for theology studies. This transformed my life and after one year of the studies I obtained a certificate.

Filled with renewed hope, I advanced my studies and within no time I completed a diploma and later a higher diploma on the same. Courtesy of my studies, I became a changed man and my outlook in life changed. I joined other evangelists in prison and started preaching to my colleagues. I found new strength to cope with prison life and spent most of my time praying and reading the Bible.

On March 11 this year, my jail term came to an end and when the prison gates opened for me, I walked out a changed man. My few belongings in one hand and my precious certificates in the other.

My family and fellow villagers received me with open arms. They hugged me, sang and danced to show their delight at my return and this reception further gave me hope of a brighter future.

I went through a lot to get to this point including being jailed for something I did not do but I thank God for this experience which changed my life.

I have also forgiven those who falsely accused me and no longer regret the arrest or the court’s decision. I believe it was all part of God’s plan.

Now that my community has accepted me as a pastor, I will continue to preach the word of God for the rest of my life.

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